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Obituary

German fan dies falling from 'Hobbit' mountain

A German fan of the new J.R.R. Tolkien movie The Hobbit has died attempting to ascend a mountain used on the hit film's New Zealand set.

The 38-year old amateur trekker from Munich fell 200 meters (656 feet) to his death while attempting to reach the peak of the mountain made famous in Peter Jackson's new movie The Hobbit, reported The New Zealand Herald.

The software-developer had used his personal web page to write about his desire to combine his enthusiasm for Tolkien and mountain climbing by scaling the peak featured in the film.

Frank S., a Google employee, began trekking alone through the Mount Aspiring National Park on New Zealand's southern island on November 29. The hiker had not been heard from since beginning his solo summit climb.

Local authorities said they are unsure exactly when the climber slipped and fell down the rock face to his death.

"The deceased has fallen on a snow patch very near the top of the climb. He has been unable to stop his fall and slid down the snow and over the edge of a ridge into a near vertical gully, stopping approximately 200 meters below,'' Senior Constable Mike Johnston of Wanaka police said.

''This steep and challenging 'poled' route over the Cascade Saddle is an alpine environment which requires a high level of risk and in turn a high level of skill," Johnston added.

Local tour operators offer ascents with experienced mountain climbers of the Cascade Saddle route for $3,300 (2,500 euros).

A search and rescue operation was launched on December 23 when friends in Germany contacted authorities in New Zealand after Frank S. failed to return home.

The hiker's body was discovered by a rescue helicopter on Christmas Day. Authorities delayed making the announcement until relatives and friends in Germany were notified.

jlw /jm (dpa, AP)

DW.DE